Boys and Their Toys
This is the original film image taken of Pedro Liriano in March 2001.
This is the result after scanning, cropping and "cleaning up" the digitized negative image.
I shot on film from 1998 through July 2002, when I bought a professional digital camera. Since then, everything is saved as JPEGs, and all those old negatives sit in a closet slowly falling apart.
But thanks to technology, those negatives will have new life.
This week I bought an Epson V700 scanner. In addition to scanning documents, it can also scan film negatives, slides and photo prints.
It comes with a rack into which you load the negative strips. Align the rack atop the scanner glass properly (something I had to figure out, since the documentation is rather thin) and it will automatically recognize the location of each negative.
If you have Adobe Photoshop, you can use Photoshop to directly import the JPEG images from the scanner so you can remove imperfections. (If you don’t have Photoshop, the scanner comes with a "light" version.) The older negatives are starting to flake, so you use the Photoshop clone tool to place copies of pixels from one area atop another to fix the image.
Some of you might be thinking, "Hey, isn’t FutureAngels.com hurting for money?!" (Yes, it is.) "Why’d you blow $500 on this scanner?!"
For openers, this photo scanner preserves five years of Angels minor league history, shot from 1998 through 2002.
For collectors who buy the photos from FutureAngels.com, now I can digitize and enhance the photos so you get a much better product. The examples to the right show you what’s possible. Someone asked me for a copy of the Pedro Liriano photo in the film gallery from March 2001, taken at the old spring training camp in Mesa, Arizona. As you can see from the top image, it was pretty crummy. But by scanning and digitizing the negative, now it’s a pretty good photo.
I’ve had to digitize negatives before, but that meant taking the negatives to the lab where I had to pay for it. One former minor leaguer earlier this year asked for a copy of all his photos, which totalled about forty. Those were a lot of negatives to scan, but when I saw the results back from the lab I was stunned to see how good they were. And after using Photoshop to crop, enlarge and enhance — well, I was sold.
Photo scanners have become increasingly affordable. The lab says their equipment cost about $10,000. This Epson scanner, in the "pro-sumer" range, was a little over $500.
If you’re into multimedia, the best place to shop on line is B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio. They’re based in New York City. All the professional photographers know about B&H. Their prices are extremely competitive, and so far their shipping has been 100% reliable.
They also carry stuff you can’t find in your local store. For example, a couple years ago I was asked to make VHS copies of the 2004 Provo Angels pennant videos I shot. That was about 20 minutes of footage, so why use two-hour tapes? B&H carries VHS cassettes that run almost any length you can imagine, so I ordered 30-minute cassettes from them.
You can’t find much selection any more in VCRs, so when mine died recently I ordered two of the same model I wanted from B&H. One is a backup for the other.
You’ll find real high-end stuff too, such as the new Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players. Are there equivalent recorders? Yep, although they’re very expensive. But you can find them through B&H.
Anyway, it’s a worthwhile investment, for no other reason than we’ll be able to preserve a critical period in Angels history that saw the rise of John Lackey, Scot Shields, Francisco Rodriguez and many others.